Ravichandran Ashwin failed to make a single appearance in India’s recently concluded tour of the West Indies but Anil Kumble believes that the 32-year-old is still the best available spinner in the country.
Ashwin’s status in the pecking order took a big hit in the Caribbean with Ravindra Jadeja being preferred as the sole spinner for both the Tests against the West Indies. It follows from a difficult 2018 for the off-spinner which saw him miss six of India’s last 13 overseas Tests due to both fitness issues and poor form.
Ashwin was overtaken by Kuldeep Yadav in the pecking order when India toured Australia at the end of last year and his latest snub in West Indies will only add to the uncertainty regarding his place in the Test setup.
However, Kumble believes that Ashwin still has a role to play as India’s lead Test spinner.
“He is still the best spinner that you have,” the former India leg-spin icon told cricketnext in an interview.
“Yes, there have been a few incidents where he has had injuries and not performed to his potential, but Ashwin is your No. 1 spinner in the team.
“He should be a part of the squad, he should be in the playing XI, you have to make a way of getting him in.”
While the Indian team management has recently placed their trust in Jadeja, Kumble feels that Ashwin should still be included in the playing XI in a two-man spin attack.
“I strongly believe that the team certainly can have two spinners in the squad, because both Ashwin and Jadeja are wonderful batsmen,” he said.
“Ashwin has had four Test hundreds, Jadeja has been really consistent with the bat. He did that again in the West Indies, he’s a wonderful bowler too and both of them in tandem can certainly be handful for the opposition.
“So yes, when India travel outside, it’s not always that you get four bowlers to pick up 20 wickets.”
Ashwin will now hope to get back into the thick of things when India host South Africa in a three-match Test series which begins in October.
Afghanistan were left standing on the verge of a famous Test win over Bangladesh after a rain-affected Day Four in the one-off clash between the two sides at Chattogram.
The hosts were left reeling at 136-6 in a daunting chase of 398 before another spell of rain brought an early end to proceedings on Sunday. It was skipper Rashid Khan who was once again the star with the ball for the visitors with the leg-spinner picking up three of the six Bangladesh wickets to fall.
Earlier in the morning, an unbeaten 48 from wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai has seen Afghanistan extend their second-innings total to 260 before they were bowled out for an overall lead of 397.
Bangladesh openers Liton Das and Shadman Islam started well in their final innings chase of 398 before Afghan spinner Zakir Khan struck twice in quick succession immediately after the lunch interval.
The left-armed wrist-spinner trapped Liton Das lbw before having Mosaddek Hossain caught at long-off to reduce Bangladesh to 52-2. Bangladesh stalwart Mushfiqur Rahim got off to a good start with the bat but the wicketkeeper batsman’s innings was cut short on 23 by the brilliant Rashid.
The fourth day of the one-off test between Afghanistan and @BCBtigers ended with Afghanistan needing four wickets and Bangladesh needing further 262 runs to win the match ending the day at 136/6 with the final day to go.#AFGvBAN@Farhan_YusEfzai pic.twitter.com/8jBOBFG0Gj— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) September 8, 2019
The Afghan leg-spin sensation caught Mominul Haque plumb in front of the wicket soon after to tighten the screws on the hosts. At the other end, veteran Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi ended opener Shadman Islam’s gritty 114-ball vigil to put the visitors firmly on top before Rashid grabbed a third wicket late in the day.
The Afghanistan skipper deceived Mahmudullah with a googly to reduce Bangladesh to 125-6 and he came mighty close to ending Shakib Al Hasan’s stay at the crease as well. Unfortunately for Rashid, he could not hold on to a sharp return catch off his own bowling to complete the Bangladesh captain’s dismissal.
Shakib remained unbeaten on 39 for Bangladesh when stumps were drawn at Chattogram and the Bangladesh skipper now holds the key for his side on the final day. While the Afghans are just four wickets away from wrapping up a historic win, they will be wary of the weather with further rain interruptions forecast for the final day of the one-off Test.
The ongoing Test has seen Rahmat Shah become the first-ever Afghan centurion in the format after the left-hander made 102 in the first-innings. Rashid, meanwhile, has led Afghanistan’s charge with the ball with the leg-spinner picking up a five-wicket haul in the first innings while also registering a vital half-century with the bat.
Should the Afghans be able to complete the job on Monday, it will be their second-ever win in the Test format in three appearances. They were handed a crushing defeat by India in their maiden Test last year before they beat Ireland at Dehradun earlier this year.
Afghanistan: 342 and 260
Bangladesh: 205 and 136-6
Shadman Islam: 41
Rashid Khan: 3-46
England find themselves in deep trouble at the start of day five of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford and might find themselves needing yet another inspirational performance from Ben Stokes in the middle-order.
Pat Cummins removed Rory Burns and Joe Root in consecutive deliveries in the first over late on day four to leave the hosts reeling at 18/2 in the second innings.
England need 365 more runs to win and take an improbable 2-1 lead in the series and have eight wickets in hand.
Joe Denly and Jason Roy are currently at the crease and will look to frustrate the Aussie bowlers who dominated this Test match. Their resistance to the visitors’ pace attack will be crucial, if England hope to get back into the game.
Will Cummins build on his sensational opening or will the hosts script yet another come-back?
For live ball-by-ball updates, follow the scorecard below: